Hypable Exclusive Author Interview: Leah Cypess

9:00 am EST, November 9, 2012
Exclusive

Leah Cypess is the author of the young adult fantasy novel Mistwood, and its companion Nightspell. Her work has earned starred reviews in Kirkus and acclaim from the ALA Booklist and School Library Journal. Leah wrote in her spare time through law school and legal practice, and now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband and their three children.

Could you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

1. I like blue

2. I also like green, actually.

3. I think dark blue and forest green match and look great together. And I sometimes dress accordingly, even though everybody I know disagrees violently with my assessment.

4. At other times, I wear clothes that don’t match, but it’s not quite with the same sense of social defiance. It’s just because I have a bad habit of not noticing that clothes are dirty until I’m wearing them and have five minutes to get out the door.

5. I don’t really care that much about colors, or even clothes, in a general sense. But you should beware of saying “random” to me.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. In first grade, I wrote a story from the point of view of an ice-cream cone, and when I was eights years old I told my grandmother I intended to be an author when I grew up. (Actually, I intended to be the youngest ever published author, but then I saw this tv news interview with a 7-year-old who had sent a peace poem to Russia, and my dreams died a sudden and painful death.)

My journey to being a published writer, however, was far more complicated. Also at around the age of eight, I started trying to notice how publishers packaged their books and who they published, because I figured this would help me “pick a publisher” when I was ready. I decided I’d go with Greenwillow Books, since they published Diana Wynne Jones and she was my favorite author.

At the age of fifteen, I started sending books and stories to various magazines. I would stop off at the library on my way home from school, go to the Reference section, and painfully copy out entries from Writer’s Market. I got, of course, slews of rejections. I knew to expect that, so my confidence was unabated. There was only one letter that stung – from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, the only magazine I actually subscribed to (well, that and Cat Fancy – even though I didn’t have a cat – but that’s a very long story). I loved the selection in that magazine and they were all exactly the types of stories I wrote, so I figured they would be the first to publish me.

But my first rejection letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley was a form letter which explained that, “I am sorry to say that in this story you did not manage to get me sufficiently interested in your characters to care whether they lived and did well or whether a convenient earthquake came and swallowed them all up on the last page.” And yes, you read correctly. That was the standard language on one of her form letters.

At the age of 17, I finally got my first story accepted to publication – at Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. Thick skins are very important in this business.

I then started sending my first full-length book manuscript to editors. I collected rejections from pretty much every imprint in existence. Over the next five manuscripts, I slowly graduated from form rejections, to “not this one, but send us your next one” rejections, to personal regretful rejections explaining in length why this manuscript wasn’t a good fit, to revision requests, to rejections that came from the acquisitions committee rather than the editor.

Finally, a mere 15 years after my first submission, I got an offer to publish Mistwood. It came from Greenwillow Books.

What has surprised you about writing and publishing?

When it comes to writing, I’m surprised by every book I write. I always think I have a sense of where the story is going, and somewhere along the way, it always takes a left turn. That’s one of my favorite parts of writing, and one of the reasons I don’t outline.

With publishing, pretty much everything surprised me. I had never thought about what happened afterward; that offer to publish, to have a real book with my name on it, was the gold at the end of the rainbow for me.

Why do you feel drawn to the stories you write?

With short stories, I’m usually drawn to an idea that I think is cool and unusual and/or looks at an issue I really care about through a different angle. With novels, I usually need two things – a character that comes to life in my mind and a situation that spurs my imagination.

At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?

It depends on the idea. With Mistwood, I knew somewhere in the middle of the second chapter that this wasn’t actually going to be a short story. With Nightspell, I knew from the start it was a full-length book idea.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I shut all criticism out of my mind, so I can’t answer that.

Just kidding. Though to be honest, there isn’t any particular critique or review that sticks out in my mind – I do know what seems to bother a lot of people, and those are the things I try hardest to work on. With Mistwood, a number of people felt the secondary characters weren’t as fleshed out as they could be, so that was something I tried to correct while writing Nightspell. With Nightspell, a lot of people didn’t like that there wasn’t enough romance, which is somewhat frustrating to me since I never intended the book to be a romance – but Barnes & Noble shelved it under paranormal romance, so people understandably felt that they didn’t get what they had expected.

What has been the best compliment you’ve received?

What means the most to me are those reviewers who have become fans – who are eagerly anticipating my next book and will read it no matter what it’s about. That’s how I feel about my own favorite authors, and though I don’t think I’m in their league, it’s really amazing to think that there are people who feel that way about my writing.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

A beach on a windy day. Or, in reality: the playground when my kids have friends to play with and therefore don’t interrupt me.

Do you most relate to your main characters, or to secondary characters?

I tend to write in a pretty limited third-person POV, which makes me relate most to my main characters. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the characters who are most like me.

How do you approach writing villains?

I don’t know if I write “villains” (though come to think of it, I may have in Nightspell). I think everyone has reasons for the things they do, even when those things are evil. I also think that understanding someone’s actions is not the same as condoning them.

What is your favorite chapter or scene you’ve written recently?

I have this tendency to love the next thing I’m going to write the best. That said, I recently wrote a rough draft of a scene for the sequel of Deathsworn, and while I can’t say anything about it without major spoilers, I kind of hug myself thinking about it.

(Sorry. I know that is massively uninformative. If it makes you feel any better, I give it about a 30% chance that in a week I’ll look at the scene again and realize it needs to be cut.)

Which is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

The first line!

Which one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?

Split by Swati Avasthi. First, because it’s amazing, and second, because it deals with a topic (spouse abuse) I’ve never really understood – and probably still don’t, but I now understand what I don’t understand.

Do you have things you need in order to write? (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music?)

Paper. Pen. That’s about it.

What are you working on now?

The aforementioned sequel to Deathsworn. It’s my first time writing a sequel, and it’s been a challenge, but there’s also something very satisfying about getting to stay with the same character for so long.

For more about Leah Cypess:

You can find Cypess’ books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and contact her through her website at leahcypess.com.

Newt’s brother was assigned to search for Grindelwald, new ‘Fantastic Beasts’ prop letter reveals

This likely has major implications for future Fantastic Beasts movies.

1:06 pm EST, December 9, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

fantastic-beasts-theseus-newt-grindelwald

The letter reveals that Theseus was tasked with searching for Grindelwald himself — a very interesting development for this film series. Though some words on the letter can’t be seen due to another prop covering them up, the note to Newt appears to suggest that Theseus was honored to be assigned the role. Here’s what it says, again courtesy Snitch Seeker:

Well, little brother,

I don’t know how much you have heard wherever you are about what’s going on in jolly old Europe but this chap Grindelwald has been making a lot of noise since you have been away.

Charismatic blighter, but the Ministry doesn’t like him and nor does the International Confederation.

He has upset a few of the big wheels and he’s gone underground. I have been chosen to go away and ferret him out. _______ at the chance to be picked, actually, because the whole _______ want to be on this case and it’s taken some _______ hard work to reach this status.

_______ wishing you well – wherever you are. _______ whatever beastly quests you are undertaking!

Best regards,

Theseus

The fact that this letter was made for the movie is very interesting. It suggests that Theseus at one point may’ve had a larger role in the movie — or at least, he could’ve been referenced more than once.

Further, this letter could mean that Theseus’ll have an on-screen role in future movies. In fact, Theseus’ role as Grindelwald Hunter could be J.K. Rowling’s ticket to getting Newt deeply involved with the search for Grindelwald.

johnny-depp-grindelwald

Theseus will surely be pleased to hear that his brother helped capture Grindelwald. Theory time: What if Theseus dies in a future Fantastic Beasts movie as the fight against Grindelwald (inevitably) continues? What if this leads Newt to avenge his brother’s death?

What else do we know about the character? Not much, but Snitch Seeker says that during an interview with Colin Farrell the actor revealed Theseus “was a British Auror with whom his character, Percival Graves, corresponded.”

How do you think Theseus will play into future ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies?

Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Read full article

Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother — his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah

‘Born a Crime’ book review

Trevor Noah is best known for his current hosting gig on The Daily Show where he had huge shoes to fill following Jon Stewart’s departure — shoes that he has, by the way, filled with grace, humor, and a sharp wit.

Noah has been candid about growing up in South Africa under Apartheid and the troubling parallels he sees developing in the United States, especially since Donald Trump’s rise to power, but Born a Crime puts a spotlight on his childhood adventures in a way that his segments on The Daily Show cannot.

Born a Crime is an interesting mix of heartbreak and humor. There is no denying that Noah’s childhood was not easy. He talks extensively about trying to find a place for himself at school and in life. He was too White for the Black kids and too Black for the White kids. As a child, what do you do when you have nowhere to belong?

You adapt.

Unless it wasn’t abundantly clear already, Trevor Noah is an intelligent man. Born a Crime documents the way he viewed the world and used his situation to his advantage while living in South Africa. He learned dozens of languages, either in part or in full, in order to survive the endless dangers of his hometown. He found a way to make money and build himself a tiny empire using only a computer and his wits. He took what was given to him, which was, honestly, next to nothing, and found a way to make his life fulfilling.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah feature

Noah’s mother has a huge impact on the stories presented in this memoir because she had a huge impact on her son. Strong, independent, stubborn, reliable, hardworking, clever, pious, strict, and loving, Trevor makes it explicitly clear that his mother is the reason he turned out the way he did. We should all give thanks to her.

Her story is tragic, as is growing up under Apartheid, but despite their circumstances, both led vibrant lives in which they became partners in an us-against-the-world kind of way. Hearing Noah speak about his mother infuses you with a warmth and respect for a woman you have never met, and yet that feeling is as genuine as they come.

For his part, Noah was a handful as a child and a teenager, though it’s that spunk and comedy that we so look forward to seeing now. He got into trouble — he even broke the law — but he experienced life and all the ups and downs that comes with it. He is a wealth of knowledge because he has gone far and wide to gather that knowledge himself.

Born a Crime will certainly make you laugh far more than it’ll make you cry, but don’t be so bold as to put the tissues away before the final chapter of the book. This memoir is a lesson in humility, love, faith, and perseverance. Hopefully it will affect you as strongly as it has affected me, especially if you are so lucky as to be able to listen to Noah narrate the book himself on Audible.

Add ‘Born a Crime’ to your Goodreads list or purchase it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

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The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

The main theme of Homecoming certainly seems to be Peter’s desire to prove that he’s a capable member of the Avengers team. If you remember in Civil War, Tony wouldn’t let him get too deep into the fight, for fear that he wasn’t ready. But Peter doesn’t want to be treated liked a kid.

Except he definitely is a kid, and it’s a nice break from the other Spider-Man movies we’ve seen so far, which depicted an older Peter Parker that never quite fit the high school vibe.

Tom Holland’s Peter is undoubted an awkward teenager, and the younger character lends itself to a lighter, more humorous tone for the movie. Marvel has always been good at balancing action and comedy in their movies, and Homecoming is already promising to be a fun romp.

We get a lot of great looks at other characters in this trailer, too, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Donald Glover and Zendaya. Michael Keaton will be playing Vulture, and of course we also get Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

How cool was it to see Spidey swinging along next to Iron Man like an equal?

As is often the case for Marvel movies, ABC and Jimmy Kimmel debuted the trailer for Homecoming following pretty high expectations from fans. Did it live up to your hype?

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ hits theaters on July 7, 2017